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Sidmouth Literary Festival Roadshow with Radio Devon. Speakers: Judi Spiers, Christopher Biggins, Julia Creeke, Laurence Anholt and Tim Pears

Festival Launch with Radio Devon. Speakers - Judi Spiers, Christopher Biggins, Julia Creeke, Laurence Anholt and Tim Pears.

Welcome to the Sidmouth Literary Festival Roadshow! We've got a truly unique event for you with a line up of authors to celebrate Devon and its literary heritage. Presenter David Fitzgerald of Radio Devon - our media partner - will be featuring the event on his show. 

We've called this event a 'festival roadshow' because we feel it has a buzzy, vibrant, on-the-move, informal carnival atmosphere! As well as our fascinating guests and authors, there will be a coffee break, an opportunity to look around Sidholme with its stunning grounds and the chance to observe how a broadcast works. Embrace the experience!

We're delighted that Every's Solicitors have kindly sponsored this event. 

Venue: Sidholme Music Room, Sidholme Hotel

Programme (timings are approximate):

10.00 Christopher Biggins in conversation with Judi Spiers
10.45 Julia Creeke - Sidmouth History
11.15 Coffee break
11.45 Laurence Anholt - Devon based children's author on his novel The Hypnotist
12.30 Tim Pears - on his novel The Horseman set in pre-WW1 Devon

Tickets: Click for Eventbrite page


CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS is a well-known TV personality and as an actor has appeared in many British television classics, dramas and in theatre from Shakespeare to musicals all over the world. He is a regular guest on television and radio, one of the Grand Dames of pantomime and a great supporter of charitable work. Perhaps best known as a comedy actor, he appeared regularly as Lukewarm in the 1970's hit TV series Porridge as well as in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em but he has undertaken many serious roles, including playing Nero in the BBC dramatization of I, Claudius by Robert Graves, and was in the original Poldark TV series.

JUDI SPIERS, who will be talking with Christopher, and chairing a discussion about Crime and Passion between Lee Weeks and Lesley Pearse on Saturday morning, is Devon born and bred and a highly respected broadcaster, presenter and interviewer. Many will be familiar with Judi from BBC Radio Devon and we welcome her back to the Sun, Sea & Books festival which she also supported last year.


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JULIA CREEKE is a Sidmouth-based historian, who has researched and written a number of guides about the town, including The story of Sidmouth's Long Print, A Picture in Time,and Historic Sidmouth: Life and times in Sidmouth : a guide to blue plaques

Miss Creeke, now in her 70s, has been a keen sailor from an early age and reckons that she has sailed half-a-million miles during her lifetime.

LAURENCE ANHOLT has been at the forefront of children’s publishing for over 30 years with more than 200 books published in 30 languages. Titles include the Chimp and Zee series, Anholt’s Artists books, the Seriously Silly Stories and numerous picture books – his titles have won many awards.

In October 2016, Penguin Random House published Laurence’s first full-length novel, THE HYPNOTIST to great acclaim. It is a shockingly relevant thriller and love story, for adults and older teens, set in the Deep South of America in the 1960’s against a background of segregation and the dreaded Ku Klux Klan. The Guardian described The Hypnotist as ‘Full of suspense and heartbreak’. The TES talked about being ‘transported to the deep, gritty Southern States of America and hooked…’ In addition, the book was awarded official endorsement by Amnesty International, who hailed it as ‘a passionate, important novel.

As well as taking part in the Festival Roadshow on Friday morning, Laurence will be visiting a local school in the afternoon.

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TIM PEARS is the author of eight novels, including In the Place of Fallen Leaves (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award), In a Land of Plenty (made into a ten-part BBC series) and Landed (shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012 and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2011, winner of the MJA Open Book Awards 2011). He has been Writer in Residence at Cheltenham Festival of Literature and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University. He lives in Oxford with his wife and children. His latest book, The Horseman, is a beautiful pastoral novel, set in Devon in 1911, about an unexpected friendship between two children – the first in a new trilogy.

The launch event will also be joined by the local business' who are supporting the festival.

Book profiles:

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt (Penguin, £7.99)

Jack has left his native Ireland and is making a new life as Professor of Neurology at a university in the American South. He has certain skills, honed over his lifetime, that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control...Thirteen-year-old Pip is plucked out of an orphanage by a farmer, hired as a farm-hand, and as carer for the farmer's wife. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960s America, where race defines you and overshadows everything. As racial tensions reach boiling point with a danger closer to home and more terrifying than either thought possible, Jack and Pip's lives become inextricably linked. And Jack's hypnotic skills are called on as never before... 

The Horseman by Tim Pears  (Bloomsbury, £14.99)

From the prize-winning author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves comes a beautiful, hypnotic pastoral novel reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, about an unexpected friendship between two children, set in Devon in 1911
1911. In a forgotten valley, on the Devon-Somerset border, the seasons unfold, marked only by the rituals of the farming calendar. Twelve-year-old Leopold Sercombe skips school to help his father, a carter. Skinny and pale, with eyes as dark as sloes, Leo dreams of a job on the Master's stud farm.
As ploughs furrow the hard January fields, the Master's daughter, young Miss Charlotte, shocks the estate's tenants by wielding a gun at the annual shoot. Spring comes, Leo watches swallows build their nests, hedgerows thrum with life and days lengthen into summer. Leo is breaking a colt for his father when a boy dressed in a Homburg, breeches and riding boots appears. Peering under the stranger's hat, he discovers Charlotte.And so a friendship begins, bound by a deep love of horses, but divided by rigid social boundaries – boundaries that become increasingly difficult to navigate as they approach adolescence… 

Hallucinatory, beautiful and suffused with the magic of nature, this tale of an unlikely friendship and the loss of innocence builds with a hypnotic power. Evoking the realities of agricultural life with precise, poetic brushstrokes, Tim Pears has created a masterful, Hardyesque pastoral novel. The first in a dazzling new trilogy, The Horseman is his greatest achievement.

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